I know nothing about DVD's

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by Fox, Dec 5, 2003.

  1. Fox

    Fox Clown Administrator Administrator Moderator

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    I wanna buy a DVD but not sure how to pick a good one. In Brisbane, there are so many to pick from and about 6 that are under $200 so that's my budget.

    What does the following mean? (In 5 words or less)

    DTS Digital Output - TV Virtual Surround;
    Advanced Smooth Scan;
    Dynamic Tilt Compensation
    Precision Drive 2
    DVD Video, DVD+R/RW, Video CD
    DVD-R/RW (Video Mode)
    DVD-R/RW (VR Mode)
    CD,CD-R/RW, MP3 CD
    High-Speed Scan (Five Speeds up to 200 x Playback Speed)
    Variable Zoom
    Cinema Mode

    If I don't know any of this, maybe I shouldn't be buying a DVD huh? :(


    I have a surround sound HI-FI already so I'm looking for something to complement that. I've got an ordinary TV about 3 years old though. I don't want that to limit my DVD features as the TV will be replaced one day.

    http://www.panasonic.com.au/catalogue/details.cfm?pcode=DVD-S25&pdiv=DVD&cat=5_1

    http://shop.ryda.com.au/main_itemdetail.asp?cat=3&item=DVPNS530S


    http://www.jvc-australia.com/products/_products_sub_group_details.asp?ID=1196
     
  2. Derelict

    Derelict Retired Administrator

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    Is this Fox's "Ask a hundred questions day"? ;)

    You basically want one that comes with 5.1 surround sound.

    DTS Digital Output - "Digital Theatre Systems" Digitial Output. Basically translates to the "DVD can broadcast 5.1 surround sound if the DVD has that sound format encoded into it"

    Advanced Smooth Scan - Manufacturer specfic coined term to say "the DVD player will read multiple times so it has a buffer and allow the picture and playback to not skip"

    Dynamic Tilt Compensation - another coined term for the "the DVD will play without jutters"

    Precision Drive 2 - Second generation of drives that allows the DVD disc to spin smoother.

    DVD Video, DVD+R/RW, Video CD, DVD-R/RW, CD, CD-R/RW - Can read all those formats. (Betamax and VHS readable if equating to the video cassette recorder)

    High Speed Scan - Same as the Advanced Smooth Scan - different manufacturer coining like terms.

    Best place for you to go to get a DVD would be somewhere like Betta Electrical. Stay away from Harvey Normans as they will rip you off. Betta Electrical stores won't pull you around. Tell them what you want, give them specific requirements, and they'll get something to best suit your wants and desires.
     
  3. Warbear.Prime

    Warbear.Prime Well-Known Member

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    Get a price from a few places, keep working them down, and then go to Good Guys with cash, tell them what you can get it for, and they will beat it.

    Pick the model first - get the best price, and go there.

    We saved $45 on ours.
     
  4. Iko

    Iko Getting Started

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    This may sound terribly trivial, but make sure that you spend some time in a store feeling the DVD remote and making sure it is comfortable for you. Not all remotes are made alike.

    I wish I had done so for my current DVD player (which my father purchased for me). The remote is unintuitively shaped and even after over a year's ownership, I still pick it up the wrong way and end up pressing the "next chapter" button instead of the "rewind".
     
  5. Fox

    Fox Clown Administrator Administrator Moderator

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    Thanks guys - I need to decide on a model first.

    It sounds like the 5.1 surround is a must as that is exactly what I have.

    What does DVD/JPEG/DVD-R/DVD-RW mean? Do I need all those formats?

    Are all players multi-region? That's a must for me.
     
  6. Derelict

    Derelict Retired Administrator

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    All it means in terms of formats is that the DVD player is also capable of displaying data with those formats.

    For example - you could have a data CD full of JPEGs that you may want to be "played" on the DVD so friends and family can see all your holiday happy snaps.

    Currently there's 2 formats for DVD recording.

    DVD+RW (includes DVD+R)
    DVD-RW (includes DVD-R)

    Both have advantages and disadvantages. but both are entirely different in how data is written. Both formats have large powerful companies backing them so the format war is going to continue ultil one or two of these companies drop.

    All commercially produced DVDs are able to be played in all commercially purchased DVD players. The only issue you have with the DVD + or - RW formats is if you have a DVD burner on your PC and it's dependant on what format the DVD burner writes in.

    Most DVD players can be made multi region. The only thing I'd do is find the model number of the DVD player you have and do a Google search on "<DVD brand and model number> multi region" to see the way to multi region the player. I also believe that most stores will also multi region the player for you for a fee or if you're clever with the tongue, no fee.
     
  7. Smash

    Smash Retired Admin

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    Hey guys one really important thing your leaving out is 1080i.

    I don't know if you ahve a High def TV (ie a rectangle screen instead of square) but if you do or will be buying on in the near future you wnat a DVD player that runs 1080i format (they are more expensive)

    Just a thought! Good luck!
     
  8. JonBoy

    JonBoy Getting Started

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    Also Fox,

    It's worth it to find out the warrenty is like, we bought
    an Akai DVD from target (an under $200 jobbie), when it broke as things to, we discovered that there would be a three month wait for it to be repaired.

    JonBoy
     
  9. Janus

    Janus Hope is Alive

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    Ikoru makes a good point - check out the remote, because that's the one thing that you'll use a lot. You want to be able to use it without thinking about it. A backlit remote is useful too.

    I'd stay away from the cheapies - you know, the $89 DVD players. They skimp on some components - like heat sinks, memory, processor, etc. I'd look for one around the $200 mark, and probably from a reputable brand. Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony, etc. I'd go with Warbear's suggestion too - saving money never hurts.

    Think about future-proofing too - does the DVD player have component video out? This will be useful especially if you're going to be replacing your TV in the near future, and possibly with a digital TV set.

    Quick explanation:
    There's your usual video out - the (usually) yellow plug with a single large pin in the middle. All off the video signal goes through this way.

    Then the next step up is S-Video - the breaks the signal up a bit, ensuring a cleaner transmission.

    Component is the best - basically it breaks the signal up into it's separate colour components - Red, Green, Blue - this format ensures the picture transmission is clear and ungarbled.

    Sound:
    As mentioned above, there's Dolby 5.1 - which is the minimum that you want to have. 5.1 = 5 channels - Center, Front Left, Front Right, Back Left, Back Right. the .1 means a sub-woofer channel. (I think) Dolby is still an analogue format. DTS is the next step up - DTS is digital. It loses nothing through conversion to analogue.

    Lastly, the one thing that I've noticed on cheaper players when compared to more expensive players is the load times and transistion times. I have a friend who has a cheaper player than the one I have at home, and I've tested this with the same DVD.

    The cheaper player took longer to load the DVD - meaning that you have a longer wait before you can actually watch the movie.

    The second thing is that every DVD I've watched as a small pause halfway in, where the player starts reading data from the second layer on the disc. A better player will only have an almost unnoticeable pause, whereas a cheaper one will make it look like someone hit the pause button for a little bit. It all adds up to enjoying your movie/s, I suppose.

    My suggestion would be to bring your own DVD along and test it on the players that you're auditioning. How long does it take to load? Run it through the layer-transition - how long is the pause?

    Also, cheaper players will have problems sending a clear picture to the screen when it gets busy. A car chase through a busy scene - like the car chase in Ronin - will show this up. On a good player, the background will be clean and crisp. A cheaper player will have trouble rendering this, and the backgrounds will appear washed out or blurred.

    FYI, I've had my HT (Home Theatre) system for a little while now - it's the Sony DV300 Dreamsystem - a "Home Theatre in a Box" sort of deal - DVD player, 5 satellite speakers and a woofer, and I've been very happy with it.

    Keep in mind that while we can all make suggestions, it's your eyes and ears that will be the final judge - you're going to live with it. It's the only way to find one that you'll be happy with. I'd test a favourite movie out on a premium player to see what is possible, then head back to the players in your price range, and see which one comes closest to the uber-player. Have fun, Fox! :)
     
  10. Arienne

    Arienne The Woman in Red Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Afer purchasing a $500 Phillips DVD a couple of years ago and having it grenade just after warranty, we bought a $96 special from Big W earlier this year. Funnily enough, it has all the bits and pieces and different formats that the more expensive ones had anyway and is working perfectly.

    Quite a good looking unit too. Maybe I'm just a cheap bastard, but I couldn't tell the difference in image quality or performance between the two.
     
  11. Quant

    Quant Active Member

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    In addition to the comments made so far, I also add:

    You want to also make sure that it is Macrovision free.

    Macrovision is the copy protection mechanism that causes the auto gain control on VCRs and home projectors to pulse light and dark giving you a headache.

    Check the back of any DVD and you will see the inverted V logo of Macrovision.

    Ask if it is capable of reading Region Code Enhanced Disks
    Read here for more info
    http://www.dvdtalk.com/rce.html

    Q: What is Regional Coding enhancement(RCE)?
    A: It's a digital enhancement added to some Warner Bros and Columbia DVDs to stop region 1 (R1) DVDs from playing on Region-free DVD players.

    Read this to understand DTS
    http://www.tomshardware.com/video/20021106/audigy2-06.html
    ".. main feature of DTS is that its coding system favors sound quality over disk space."

    Why are some DVDs only $100 and others $200 given they have the same features?

    If you open up a DVD player you will essentially see a lot of empty space with a power supply/transformer, a circuit board and a DVD-ROM drive with an IDE Connection to the circuit board.

    So the differentiation is very subtle in that there is not a lot there!
    Extra heat sinks on chips are good as they tend to run hot and the extra $100 over the cheapies is well worth spending.

    Key differentiation between the El Cheapos and more expensive DVD players is the quality of the drive. This translates into greater tolerance to scratches or poorly mastered disks. "The Dish" movie for example is poorly mastered as all the copies I saw and try had problems and skipped at the same spot.

    Nothing ruins viewing a movie more than when it locks up or freezes or gets strange aliasing/pixellation appearing because of read errors.
     
  12. Quant

    Quant Active Member

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    The cheapies have only a one year warranty, so when mine was nearly up, I took it in and complained that it kept skipping (ie. Shrek when he enters the Kingdom) and had problems playing back some video (ie. some of Gladiator's Deleted Scenes on disk 2), so they replaced the drive and its been as good as new ever since.

    To fix the playback problesm I had the firmware reflashed in a chip reprogramming with a newer version. Even though it had an EEPROM, the version of firmware installed didn't support CD-R reflashing. But it does now. :)
     
  13. Bulgroz

    Bulgroz Well-Known Member

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    some more misc stuff:

    - should do DVD+-R, +-RW, CD-R and CD-RW - if you want to play your own CDs or DVDs.

    - should do both NTSC and PAL - useful for these Zone 1 DVDs from the US : some movies never come out in Zone 4, others have much less extras that the zone 1 version. Of course your TV should also handle NTSC ...

    - check that it can play VCD/SVCD/mp3. Sure, you play DVDs, but you have a PC, right? :) so you can burn VCDs, SVCDs and mp3 CDs and play them on the DVD player.

    For some weird reasons it seems that most cheapos can actually play any format you throw at them while more expansive models will baulk at a non-standard SVCD, for example. On a similar note, when I was looking, the brand names could only do zone 4, but the local asian shop had cheaper DVDs that were multi-zones.

    - I've also heard a friend say he can burn mpeg files on a DVD-ROM and they get played on his DVD player - does anybody else have this or was he pulling my leg?

    - DTS: I think there is also DTS 6.1 (extra speaker in the middle behind you) available - check what the dvd player can do. I think I read somewhere that Doom 3 could also do 7.1 sound, but I don't know many DVDs that do this yet :)

    - if you have the cash, I'd say take a cheapo with a decent list of features/supported formats, use it for a while, then figure out exatcly what is missing/bad, and get a better one. That way, you only spent $80 or $90 to experiment and can still use it for the bedroom/kids' room television ...

    - if you're on a credit card rewards program, check the offers. I know Westpac (altitude) has DVDs and sound systems available to redeem points, for example.

    The reason for the last two suggestions is that once you've spent $200 on a DVD player that doesn't quite do exacly what you want/need, you'll be more reluctant to shell out another $200 for something slightly better. The cheapo/free option first allows you to get exactly what you want in the long run ...

    On the other hand I have some dodgy akai player, so ... :)

    Just my 2 cents.

    Edit:
    check out the following site for reviews of DVD players and compatibility lists:
    http://www.dvdrhelp.com/dvdplayers
     
  14. Mad

    Mad Retired Captain

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    I am another cheap bastard and I cant tell the difference between each DVD players anyway.

    I am using an XMS model 750, it is made in China, it plays DVD/SVCD/VCD/CD/MP3 with karaoke function (if you are pissed enough). It is DTS with built-in 5.1 decoder, composite video out, S-video out, 5.1 output, co-axial out and optical out. So far it has played everything I have thrown at it.

    As Janus mentioned, the start up time is a slower, but I can wait 2 seconds, and it doesnt pause when it is changing DVD layer.

    The downside is the button layouts on the remote control.

    Bulgroz - DVD is just MPEG2 format. You can convert any video into MPEG2 format with the correct resolution, then use programs like Nero to burn it onto a DVD-ROM or even a CD-R.
     
  15. Bulgroz

    Bulgroz Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but you can't always just burn any MPEG (even mpeg2) on a DVD-ROM and drop it in a DVD player and have it play the mpegs - I've tried :) I've also done my fair share of VCD/SVCD/DVD encoding :)
    The player usually needs some kind of structure and certain files (like IFO/VOB files for DVDs) to know what it is playing.
    I 'm not talking about authoring DVDs from mpegs, just about burning mpegs to DVD-R and having the DVD player play them like that. If you've done it, how did you go? maybe my DVD player is just too old.
     
  16. Mad

    Mad Retired Captain

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    Then I've NFI :? If it can be done, then my DVD player cant do it neither.
     
  17. Fox

    Fox Clown Administrator Administrator Moderator

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    Thanks for all those tips - some were long and I read everyone.

    I think I've chosen a Sony model. This is the feature list

    CD-R/RW & MP3-CD Playback
    Playback dial on front panel
    Block noise reduction
    Digital Video Enhancer
    TV Virtual Surround
    DVD Video, DVD+R/RW, Video CD
    DVD-R/RW (Video Mode)
    DVD-R/RW (VR Mode)
    CD,CD-R/RW, MP3 CD
    Precision Drive 2
    Dynamic Tilt Compensation
    Advanced Smooth Scan
    Unlocked Search
    Instant Replay
    DTS Digital Output - TV Virtual Surround
    Playback Dial
    Control Bar
    Quick Setup
    Custom parental control (40disc)
    Multi Disc Resume
    Child Lock
    Twin Laser Pick up
    Custom Picture Mode

    Which sounds pretty impressive for me. Retravision has it for $199 but we use Senior Shopper who will negotiate/haggle on price.

    Someone mentioned a pause or delay when the player changes layers. How can I test this in the shop? They usually have a DVD playing over and over again. If I get my hands on the ergonomic remote control, how can I find this layer so I can see how it handles it? Is there a button that says

    "Fox - press this to move to the next layer"

    I bet not. Anyway, whats the feature that lets you skip the crap at the start of the movie? I'd pay for that feature.

    Skipping the start and a seamless layer transition are pretty important to me.

    Ta guys - you've helped heaps.
     
  18. Quant

    Quant Active Member

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    Find a DVD title and then check out when the layer change occurs by checking the review at.

    http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/

    For example Bruce Almighty

    "The layer change occurs at 58:21 and is placed mid-scene, right after Bruce gets covered in Post-It notes. Not perfect placement, but hardly disruptive"

    http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/Reviews/Reviews.asp?ID=3840

    On my DVD remote its called DVD Digest which takes you straight to the disk menu. Then you can either start the movie or select the Movie chapter if you want to skip the opening titles or Adverts for Goldcoast Theme parks which appear on Village Roadshow disks like Matrix Reloaded.
     
  19. Smash

    Smash Retired Admin

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    that Sony unit should be awesome bro. Sony makes some of the BEST electronics out there.

    enjoy!
     
  20. Quant

    Quant Active Member

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    It is only a matter of time until my chinese generic DVD player packs up, so I may have to start looking at one of those Sony DVD home theatre packages.

    My Panasonic 76 cm widescreen can do 1080i but didn't come with the built in surround sound decoder.
     

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